Along with October’s record rainfall, the streets of the East Bay flooded last month with another long-unseen phenomenon — crowds.
The shift was most surprising in places such as downtown Berkeley, long a pandemic ghost town, now requiring navigation through groups of pedestrians. Shopping districts such as Oakland’s Temescal and Bay Street in Emeryville were reanimated by friends and families out enjoying fall shopping in high numbers. Lines grew for concerts and movies, with everyone patiently bearing vaccination cards and masks. And speaking of masks, traditional Halloween neighborhoods, mostly dormant last year, swarmed once again with trick-or-treaters.
One Nosh friend calls it a return to “peopling.” Though not quite at pre-pandemic levels yet (as with actual traffic, ugh), foot traffic is back. To some it feels auspicious, others take a warier view, but for better or worse, crowds are once again on the move, and they are snacking and sipping their way through the East Bay.
As usual, please send any food and drink opening tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
DAYTRIP Funky and fermented seem to be the two best words to describe the glittery, modern vibe (and much of the food) at this stylish new spot that is part restaurant, part wine bar and all party. According to Janelle Bitker’s write-up in the SF Chronicle, it’s also a place where chefs Finn Stern (Standard Fare) and Stella Dennig, who has staged in Boston and Berlin, take a “louder, spicier, more ‘out there’ East Coast approach to California cooking.” That means using fresh chiles in creative ways, as well as plenty of deft, innovative dishes formed from fermented ingredients. Wines are equally special — selections are from minority-owned producers and those practicing sustainability. Look for fresh pastries on weekends. Daytrip, 4316 Telegraph Ave. (between 43rd and 44th streets), Oakland
LANA’S Formerly Cookiebar Creamery, and from the same team, Lana’s has been open for several weeks, delighting locals by returning Cookiebar’s ice cream, burgers (yes, they are smashed) and fries to this stretch of Old Oakland. (Note: Related popup Smish Smash also continues to serve those same smashed burgers intermittently at Neptune’s in Alameda.) Lana’s, 517 8th St. (between Washington and Clay streets), Oakland
LONGFELLOW FOOD HALL This (somewhat controversial) new ghost kitchen near Oakland’s border with Emeryville features fast-casual offerings from the following inaugural tenants (so far) for pickup and delivery: Panera Bread (for fans who miss the now-closed Emeryville standalone restaurant); Them Chicken Legs, with a menu of chicken pieces, sandwiches and sides; Orenchi Ramen; Mendocino Farms sandwich, salad and bowl chain; Que’s Kitchen serving pho and other Vietnamese fare; and Edible Happy Pizzeria. Expect more to come. Longfellow Food Hall, 5325-5333 Adeline St. (between 53rd and 54th streets), Oakland
LOVELY’S Sharing space with Two Pitchers Brewing (see below) at 2344 Webster St. in Uptown is hot-ticket burger pop-up Lovely’s. Chef-owner Mikey Yoon’s take on the “smashburger” was called the best burger in Oakland by Bon Appetit magazine in 2019, when it operated out of The Lodge on Piedmont Avenue, and he plans to serve all manner of other high-end fast-food treats: Korean fried chicken and fried fish sandwiches, flavorful hot dogs, soft-serve ice cream. Thanks to the Chronicle for sharing the news. Lovely’s, 2344 Webster St., Oakland
MUSHIN SPORTS LOUNGE Open since late summer, this boutique sports lounge offers a higher-end sports viewing experience with screens throughout, and amenities that range from bar bites and cocktails to full bottle service and private events. Reservations available on the website. Mushin Sports Lounge, 1814 Franklin St. (at 19th Street), Oakland
TWO PITCHERS BREWING Eight-year-old Two Pitchers Brewing has a new Uptown bar and taproom built into an old, historic auto shop. (The “two pitchers” behind the brand, brewers Tommy Hester and Wilson Barr, met on their college baseball team.) The bar features an airy, industrial vibe and plenty of friendly appeal, with Two Pitchers award-winning, small-batch craft radlers on tap (beer blended post-fermentation with other ingredients such as coffee, citrus or berries), as well as dry cider and a range of local guest brews. Two Pitchers Brewing, 2344 Webster St. (between 23rd and 24th streets), Oakland
UMAMI MART KISSATEN Japanese shop Umami Mart is entering the cafe game, now serving coffee and sweets with a side of vinyl on Sundays, Nosh contributor Paulina Barrack noted early last month. Coffee drinks are made with Oregon’s Heart Coffee and desserts are from pastry chef Maya Kono. A traditional Japanese kissaten is a relaxed but pretty coffee shop experience that leans European; expect fancy cups and Japanese-style finger sandwiches. The airy shop interior is lined with cool Japanese kitchen, art and design imports. Reserve a coffee and dessert service time slot on the shop’s website. Umami Mart Kissaten, 4027 Broadway, Oakland
WAHPEPAH’S KITCHEN Chef Crystal Wahpepah’s long-awaited restaurant opened Oct. 30 in Fruitvale with a menu of Indigenous dishes like acorn waffles with pine nuts, Kickapoo chili and bison burgers in blueberry sauce. Nosh’s Anna Mindess took a full look at the new restaurant last month, which boasts a mural from Navajo contemporary artist Tony Abeyta. Wahpepah’s Kitchen, 3301 E. 12th St. (near 33rd Avenue), Oakland — Eve Batey
STATES COFFEE X BREAD BERKELEY Lovers of coffee and warm bread (and who isn’t at least one of those) are drawn to the new Berkeley branch of States Coffee, which was announced in 2019 and finally opened Oct. 7 in the former Country Cheese Co. building. The spacious West Berkeley location is the Martinez-based group’s fifth coffee shop, and the third to open around these parts this year. (The other two are in Oakland, and note to fans: The MLK branch in Oakland is temporarily closed.) States Coffee X Bread Berkeley, 2101 San Pablo Ave. (at Addison Street), Berkeley
BALTIC SPICE HOUSE This new East Indian restaurant in Point Richmond took over the space that formerly housed Brezo and before that The Baltic. Baltic Spice House, 135 Park Pl. (between Washington and West Richmond avenues), Richmond
MOANA’S THAI COCONUT HOUSE Potala’s home for nearly 10 years is now a Thai restaurant. The notable little curved hut on San Pablo Avenue, formerly the color of brown rice, has been freshly repainted blue, and is now Moana’s Thai Coconut House, currently in a soft opening phase. No web presence yet. Moana’s Thai Coconut House, 1045 San Pablo Ave. (between Marin Avenue and Dartmouth Street), Albany
ROOTED COFFEE Community-minded Rooted Coffee has opened a location on Locust Street in Walnut Creek. Along with locally roasted coffee, the company focuses on plant-based foods and many of their treats are gluten free. The flagship Rooted is in Pleasant Hill; this is the group’s second location. Rooted Coffee Walnut Creek, 1321 Locust St. (between Cypress Street and Mt. Diablo Boulevard), Walnut Creek
SIGNAL COFFEE ROASTERS Alameda’s getting all the good coffee lately. Heralded local coffee roastery Signal Coffee has opened its flagship cafe on Webster Street in Alameda, where West End Crepe used to be (it closed in October of 2020). Along with expert coffee drinks, Signal Coffee also has on its menu the local grail of bagels, Boichik Bagels. Check out the pretty patio out back. Signal Coffee Roasters, 1536 Webster St. (between Haight and Lincoln avenues), Alameda
SOUTHERN COMFORT KITCHEN Beyond The Creek was first to note that a permanent location of the Brill brothers’ popular New Orleans Cajun food truck has opened in the Downtown Pleasant Hill shopping center. Expect standard faves like shrimp and grits or crawfish etouffee as well as friend chicken sandwiches and catfish-laden platters. Southern Comfort Kitchen, 55 Crescent Drive, Suite F, Pleasant Hill — Eve Batey
STARBUCKS BAY ISLAND Alameda’s Bay Farm Island has itself a brand-new Starbucks, inside the small, former U.S. Bank building. Starbucks, 980 Island Dr. (at Mecartney Road), Alameda
THIRD CULTURE WALNUT CREEK Big smiles and colorful vibes abound at the new Third Culture Bakery — reported on by Nosh’s Shirley Huey — in Walnut Creek, featuring the group’s sought-after mochi muffins, mochi doughnuts, mochi brownies and matcha drinks. (This Berkeley-based company, literally founded on sweetness in 2006, continues to achieve impressive expansion since its small wholesale beginnings in 2006, and it’s a treat to mark its progress.) Third Culture Bakery, 1310 S California Blvd. (at Botelho Drive), Walnut Creek